Author Archives: Nancy Scott

About Nancy Scott

Nancy Rathbun Scott is a writer, editor, marketing strategist, film producer, and entreprenuer whose prolific career has encompassed work for a variety of organizations, both commercial and nonprofit. Nancy has authored five books, written weekly columns for USA Today, produced numerous print and online publications, and regularly pens articles for executive clients. Nancy’s company, Liberty Communications Group (www.libertycommunicationsgroup.com), provides editorial, public relations and marketing consultation. Contact: nancy@nancyscott.com

Generate New Traffic with Old Content: It’s Easy!

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Any printer who reaches out to current and prospective customers with useful information knows how important content marketing is to growing the business … and any advice about how to intelligently recycle the content investment is worth considering. After all, not every customer will see what you’ve posted the first time, so why not give the audience a second chance?

Every week, Square2Marketing adds a new video to its “Video Marketing Minute” series. On April 17, Chief Marketing Officer Eric Keiles detailed five ways to easily repurpose content and get more hits.

1. Pull a report that indicates your highest performing content. 

2. Pull a report that shows which of your web pages has the highest traffic. 

3. Repackage high-performing content by adding a fresh cover page.

4. Create a new call-to-action button.

5. Link the call-to-action button to your refreshed content and post the button on high performing web pages.

 

 

Did You Know Google Plus Can Do THIS?

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Lynford Morton, owner and founder of PhotoTour DC and PhotoCoachPro, has mad marketing skills. In addition to promoting his service through email, enewsletters, and traditional PR, Lyn publicizes his activities through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+.

For his webinar titled “Street Photography Ethics & Legalities,” Lyn recently discovered something he didn’t know about Google+ — how one click can shoot an email to key market segments—Google+ followers.

“Actually, the G+ email was a happy accident,” he says. “I was loading up the webinar message to share with all my circles, when I noticed a little box near the bottom of the screen asking if I also wanted to send my post as an email to my followers. I had not done that before, but I thought it was worth testing since this was an invitation to a free webinar about street photography—a topic many people in my circles are into.”

He adds, “Facebook is limiting the reach between a business page and its followers, while G+ is allowing us to reach beyond the platform and email into our followers’ inboxes. That’s a significant development for content marketers.”

You’ve got the list, now what do you say?
The pitch Lyn used to capture click-through featured short but provocative copy taken straight from the landing page (no additional writing needed) and, of course, linked to the webinar details. Once on the landing page, beautiful photos complement a compelling story. How he eventually got the photo he wanted, but decided not to use it, examines the real life circumstances that shape the ethics and legalities of street photography.

A+. Click.

 

 

You Do It Your Way. We’ll Do It Ours.

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Apparently, some smartphone and tablet users avoid online ads every chance they get. At least AdWeek thinks so.

What’s to be done?
The Big Dogs are beyond calculating what we do. Now they’re bent on figuring out how we feel—giving us what we long for, pandering to our emotions, and, of course, selling us stuff. If these masters of manipulation have anything to say about it, when they’re finished, we will like it. To wit:

Microsoft
Septimu, a Microsoft research project is focused on monitoring user head posture and  exercise patterns to create a personal health/lifestyle diary of users, while also sensing mood and affection via speech, activity, and heart rate data (the better to ad you with).

Apple
A new Apple patent for mobile ad delivery will gather physical, behavioral, and spatial-temporal data to gauge user mood. As reported, “Apple wants to leverage user mood and mood-associated characteristic data to provide a more accurate method of ad targeting.”

Alternatively ..
Or, maybe, we should just put a print ad in front of people.  How ‘bout that as a cure for the moody blues?

 

Print? REVOLUTIONARY? Hmmm …

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Dartmouth researcher Praveen Kopalle did a study to find out why some mobile Web and app users refuse to click on ads. His research identified seven reasons that certain smartphone and tablet users say no to online advertising: small screens; no time to look; difficulty returning to original content; trouble getting/staying online; frustration with mobile phone interruptions; lengthy load times;  and no appetite for ads, period.

Hmmm.. no such problem with print ads, right? After all, print ads are just sitting there. Nothing additional remains to be done: no clicking, no loading, no waiting, no eye strain, no service interruptions!

Somebody has noticed that print has its place.

Newsweek’s new owner, IBT Media, is planning to go back into print. This tiny digital publishing company thinks a portion (70,000) of its loyal online readers are ready for a print version.

After years of colossal failure, who would pay for Newsweek in print, skeptics wonder. IBT founder Etienne Uzac says, “You would pay only if you don’t want to read anything on a backlit screen … [print] is a luxury product.”

Hmmm …

Steven Cohn, editor in chief of Media Industry Newsletter, has another wild notion. “A print magazine is kind of a prop to give the web better exposure.”

Imagine that! PRINT! A luxury product … a prop for online products.

Hmmm …

 

 

 

What Was Happening In Februarys Past?

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Sometimes it feels like all the world does is change. But maybe not so much. In the midst of this frozen winter, February seemed a good time to take a look back at what’s been happening on TDN for the past three years.

So let’s take an informal look back at topics, by year.

February 2011 (topics only; content no longer available online)
• Color in printing
• Sales tactics
• Report from DSCOOP
• Battle over paid content
• Sustainable paper procurement
• Marketing pitches
• Digital printing
• Copywriting

February 2012
• Mobile advertising for printers (2x)
• Green printing
• Response rates of PURLs
• A salute to the American stamp
• Personalization
• Marketing Channels
• Creative folding
• QR codes (4x)
• Print for Cause Marketing
• Content marketing
• USPS Barcode

February 2013
• Best practices for selling marketing services
• Saturday delivery
• Insurance
• Social media practices (2x)
• Creative folding
• Personalization
• Personalized recommendations
• Direct Mail stats
• Recruitment
• Over-targeting
• QR codes
• 3D printing (2x)
• Paper vs. electronic media (2x)
• Industry trends
• Instagram
• Sales
• Digital marketing
• Kindle

How does this compare with what we’re talking about today? Since I’m writing this in advance of February 2014, let’s look at last month’s content.

January 2014
• Generating content
• NFC tags
• Proofreading
• Postal increase
• Marketing ideas
• QR codes
• Customer service
• Automated web-to-print
• Content shock
• Kindle
• Cross-media
• Website management
• Print and mobile synergy
• Database errors in personalization
• Online marketing tips
• Green printing and direct mail (2x)

One thing you’ll notice is that we’ve kept at it. We’ve also explored key topics thoroughly — green printing, digital printing, technology, social media, and sales/marketing, for example.

Any thoughts/predictions on what we’ll be talking about in February 2015?

This Press Release Did Everything Right

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Many organizations are rediscovering the role of public relations in content marketing. As an editor, I get over a dozen press releases every day. The four most common failures I see are:

  • Not understanding the difference between “news” and “promotion.”
  • Taking too long to get to the point.
  • Failing to help me see/intuit/perceive a potential story.
  • Giving me no single, well-written, concise paragraph I can run with.

A press release that came in today from Graham Chapman at 919Marketing did everything right. Here’s why Graham’s release is better than most:

1. The subject line compels. Graham is writing for a new-mover-welcome service, Our Town America. His subject line is “Local Expert Alleviates Moving Stress with 14 for 14 Tips.” Even if the recipients (editors) aren’t relocating personally, most certainly have moved at some point. A subject line that any editor can relate to, professionally or personally, works best.

2. Graham introduces the release with a cover note that gets my brain churning. “Hi Nancy, According to the Employee Relocation Council, moving is the third most stressful event in a person’s life, trumped only by death and divorce.” Can I relate? You bet.

3. The middle of the release grabs me visually. Rather than droning on, the layout pulls my eyes to a short bulleted list that suggests several “heart-warming” gestures for various dates in February — all related to the “new mover” experience.

  • Wave Your Hand at Your Neighbor Day
  • Send a Card to a Friend Day
  • Make a Friend Day
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day

4. I’m rewarded with a Eureka! moment. I get it: 14 for 14 … this “moving” story concept is centered on Valentine’s Day, February 14. I’m charmed.

5. The pay-off gets delivered. Old Town America’s “14 for 14″ Moving Tips are pretty good (e.g., “Divvy up duties with your family, tackle the packing one room at a time, and give yourself a few weeks to get everything in boxes.”) Yep. Been there, done that.

6. If I’m interested, I know what to do. Graham has given me a bunch of story ideas and he promises “plenty of timely talkers and visuals” to help me flesh out a story. In short, this release did my first-round thinking for me. As an editor, I can’t ask for more.

Short-Form Content Gets the Look

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Marketers today need content and plenty of it. Ebooks and whitepapers make great giveaways, but, increasingly, users demand their info in bite-size chunks. Enter short-form content.

By definition, short-form content is created quickly and consumed even faster. Widely used examples include tweets, Facebook and/or LinkedIn status updates, Instagram photos, and even truncated blog posts and articles.

Josh Schwartz, a data scientist at  traffic analysis firm Chartbeat, took a look at how people scroll through Slate articles. His data shows that readers can’t stay focused. “When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway.”

Popular apps and software like the following confirm that users are hungry for short and sweet.

Vine, a mobile app that features seven-second video clips. Example: Airbnb.

Tapestry, an app that employs digital index cards by which users tell a “short story,” one card at a time. Example: Patch.

Infographics that turn complex textual information into a picture. Example: 10 Ways To Use Infographics.

Pinterest, a collection of photos gathered from around the web to tell a particular story. Example: Amnesty International.

Flipboard, software used to “build” your own magazine on any subject, simply by aggregating web content. Example: Evernote.

Snapguide, an app that lets users create and share concise step-by-step “how-to” guides. Example: School of Architecture, Kingston University London.

Snapchat, a mobile photo and video sharing service developed by Stanford University students. Talk about short! Messages posted to Snapchat self-destruct after they’re viewed. (P.S. Snapchat is H-O-T, having recently turned down a $3 billion buy offer from Facebook.) Also consider SnapChat Stories, eager to grow in ever smaller ways with  VC money  waiting in the wings. Example: Sorry, no examples are available; they’ve all self-destructed.

There’s one more short-form app I’m compelled to add because it’s so futuristic. This app — Summly  — generates short content for users automatically. Developed by a 17-year-old Brit and recently sold to Yahoo for a rumored $30 million, Summly delivers machine-generated news summaries to mobile users. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s YOUR Vote on “Content Shock”?

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Writing at businesgrow.com on January 6, influential blogger Mark Schaefer postulated that content marketers are in for Content Shock, “the merging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.”

In other words, too much to read and not enough time. But is Schaefer right?

On January 7, Christopher Penn took on the topic in his shiftcomm.com response. “Mark makes the point that deep pockets will win the content marketing battle, to the extent that it can be won, and he’s correct. Any content marketing effort absolutely must have paid media behind it to help it grow. The days of “build it and they will come” are long, long gone.”

Not everybody who commented at Mark’s post agreed, of course. Brian Clark, founder and owner of copyblogger pointed out that “If content (something people want) is doomed, then advertising (something people allegedly don’t want) should already be dead … you raise a valid issue Mark, but have come to a sensationalist and untenable conclusion.”

Joe Pulizzi added, “This is where so many brands go wrong…they think they need a lot of readers/engagers to be successful with their content marketing. Sometimes, it only takes one (some content programs are geared toward just one company, or even, one individual). That is why this thing is so powerful.”

Industry legend Shel Holtz blogged “Six Reasons There Will Be No Content Shock,” including [my favorite] “We are mainly consumers of niche content.” Shel’s right. All that content out there has nothing to do with us. We choose what we read and always have.

A  host of other blog commentators had opinions about Schaefer’s posit, too. A few even had solutions.

1. Be local and give back.
2. Build and connect with a “tribe.”
3. Listen more than tell; connect at a deeper level.
4. View “content” as a transition, not a destination.
5. Interact more with the audiences you already have.
6. Master engagement, customer service, and rapid response.

My favorite resolution is the discovery and application of better filters to drown out the noise we don’t want. Moreover, as times/technology/innovations unfold, new content will continue you to be in demand. After all, if content marketers don’t, who will explain and analyze what’s happening now? As for old content, it will, over time, just sit there, unnoticed, someplace in the digital archives, replaced by the fresh content we do want.

That’s why I’m not worried about content fatigue. How about you?

Everything I Want in Customer Service Happened Here

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It may be weeks past November, but let me say this. I’m thankful for Amazon.

I ordered two sweaters on the same day. Both were scheduled for delivery two days later, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. One was left inside my condo building (standard procedure) as promised, but the other one didn’t show.

I did an online chat with Amazon’s Jocelyn P., who told me item two was “signed for by Carter.” I had no idea who Carter was/is, but figured it might be the condo management office, which is supposed to email us about packages, but  didn’t (customer service FAIL!).

After the long Thanksgiving weekend, I went to the management office. Voila! Package number two was there. But wait there’s more …

The same day I talked to Jocelyn, I received an email from her saying, “I am writing a personal follow-up regarding our conversation yesterday about your item #[x]. I have contacted the carrier on your behalf and confirmed that the carrier delivered our item on November 27. If you haven’t received your shipment, please let us know and we’ll be happy to get a refund for you.”

How many packages does Amazon process during the holidays? Millions and millions, I’m guessing.

This is simply incredible customer service seven ways.

1. Scheduled delivery was on-time, as promised.
2. Throughout the delivery process, I received continuing notifications about the status of my order.
3. Online chat was available quickly and the representative was informed and attentive.
4. The online chat representative never suggested that the problem might be mine, but remained focused on resolving the issue.
5. I received an email follow-up to the online chat, a “first” for me.
6. Every player on the Amazon team performed as promised.
7. The same day I sent positive feedback about my shopping experience, I received a “thank you” email.

Others may enter the online shopping arena, but Amazon was there first, last, and best. Amazon, you’re amazing. Others may come and go and some may match your customer service someday, but I have a long memory and I will always be loyal to you.

Eight Reasons This Wikipedia “Thank You” Letter Is Worth Copying

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Yes,yes. I know. Copying Wikipedia is a big plagiaristic no-no. But wait, there’s more!

I made a modest donation to the Wikimedia Foundation this week. I had to. In researching and writing, I turn to Wikipedia multiple times per day. I also have contributed content to Wikipedia’s “home invasion” entry, an opportunity that allows me to share information, as well as drive traffic to my website, HomeInvasionNews.

So during their December appeal, I did what I could. Much to my surprise, within minutes I received one of the best thank-you letters to ever cross my digital OR postal mailbox. You’ve really got to copy this one.

Specifically, here are the eight attributes that make this particular thank-you note a copywriter’s dream:

1. Thank-you arrived zoom-zoom, almost as soon as I hit “donate.”

2. The subject line compelled me to read on. “Thank you from the Wikimedia Foundation,” wasn’t brain surgery, but, first, it was a bit of a surprise; and, second, it spoke to somebody who had just parted with her money.

3. The first sentence wowed me: “You are so fantastic.” That was the lead-in! Not just “fantastic” …  “SO fantastic.” It’s not something I hear every day and it sure sounded good.

4. At 544 words, this letter told me several things I needed to hear.

  • [Did my donation make a difference?] “Your donation covers not only your own costs of using Wikipedia, but also the costs of other Wikipedia readers.”
  • [Who’s this money helping anyway?] “On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the half-a-billion Wikipedia readers around the world: thank you.”
  • [Do you care that your pop-up ads are irritating when I’m working on a story?] “You may have noticed that for the first time this year we’ve tweaked our fundraising so that most people will only see the banners a handful of times, instead of for weeks. That’s deliberate: we don’t want people to get irritated by too many appeals.” (That is so nice … and I actually believe it!)
  • [What might I contribute to Wikipedia, beyond forking over money?] “I’d love if you’d try joining us in helping to write Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s written entirely by volunteers — tens of thousands of ordinary people around the world, exactly like us.” (This ordinary person is feeling very special right about now …)
  • [Will this donation disappear down the rat hole?] I very much appreciate your trust in us, and I promise you: we will use your money carefully and well.”

5. The letter was signed by a real person, Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. I don’t care that she wrote thousands of other people the same letter. It sounded like Sue knows me.

6. The four-line p.s. reinforced the message and thanked me four more ways: a) suggested I check to see if my company might have a matching gift program for employee donations; b) cited Wikimedia’s social media links and blog; c) offered me Wikimedia’s annual report, annual plan, and five-year strategic plan; d) told me about shop.wikimedia.org. Moreover, unlike less well-crafted fundraising postscripts, this one offered me more and asked for nothing.

7. Helped my IRS record-keeping  by noting the amount and record number of my tax-deductible donation.

8. The letter contained an opt-out option — not necessary for a thank-you letter, but gracious.

I’m an ardent Wikipedia supporter, passionately grateful for this motherlode of free information, instantly accessible to everyone, everywhere, in the precise moment of need. This lovely “thank you” reminded me of Wikipedia’s important work. So, thank YOU, Sue Gardner!